Sydney – Australia 2022

ALP 18.7%

Incumbent MP
Tanya Plibersek, since 1998.

Inner suburbs of Sydney. Sydney covers most of the City of Sydney and a small part of the Inner West council area. The seat covers the Sydney CBD, Pyrmont, Ultimo, Surry Hills, Redfern, Waterloo, Alexandria, Potts Point, Woolloomooloo, Darlinghurst, Erskineville, Glebe, parts of Newtown, and the southern parts of the City of Sydney, extending as far south as Rosebery. Sydney also covers Lord Howe Island.

Sydney was created for the 1969 election by the merger of the seats of East Sydney and West Sydney, which had existed since federation.

Sydney has been held by the ALP ever since its creation, and its predecessors had almost always been held by Labor.

West Sydney (which, despite its name, actually covered inner city suburbs like Darling Harbour and Pyrmont) always elected a Labor MP, although it was briefly held by a conservative party from 1916 to 1917, as its first MP was Billy Hughes, who as Prime Minister left the ALP and formed the Nationalist party. He proceeded to move to a different seat at the 1917 election, and the ALP held West Sydney from 1917 until its abolition, although Jack Beasley, who held the seat for eighteen years, left the ALP to join a Lang Labor breakaway party on two occasions in the 1930s and 1940s.

The seat of East Sydney was first held by George Reid, a former NSW premier and leader of the Free Trade party, from 1901 to 1909, when he retired. John West (ALP) won the seat in 1910 and held it until his death in February 1931. The ensuing by-election was won by Eddie Ward, who left the ALP later that year when he was one of a number of supporters of NSW Labor leader Jack Lang to cross the floor and bring down the Scullin government.

East Sydney was won at the 1931 election by John Clasby (UAP) who benefited from a split Labor vote, with the two Labor parties gaining 55% of the primary vote but enough preferences from the official ALP leaking to Clasby to see Ward lose. Clasby died a month later without taking his seat and Ward won back the seat at a January 1932 by-election, less than a year after he had previously won the seat at a by-election. Ward returned to the ALP in 1936 and the ALP held the seat from then until its abolition in 1969.

The new seat of Sydney was first won in 1969 by Jim Cope. Cope had previously held the seats of Cook and Watson before their abolitions. Neither seats have any connection to the modern seats with those names. Both Cook and Watson had covered parts of South Sydney now covered by Sydney. Cope had won Cook at a 1955 by-election following the death of the previous member, but the seat was abolished at the general election in the same year. Cope then held Watson from 1955 until it too was abolished in 1969, at which point he moved to the new seat of Sydney.

Cope held Sydney until 1975, and served as Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1973 until a dispute with the Whitlam government saw him resign in protest in 1975.

Cope was succeeded in 1975 by Leslie McMahon (ALP), who served until he was defeated for preselection before the 1983 election.

The seat was won in 1983 by Peter Baldwin, previously a Member of the Legislative Council who had become a symbol of the conflict between the Left and Right within the ALP in the Inner West in 1980 when he was brutally bashed in his home. Baldwin served as a federal minister from 1990 to 1996 and retired at the 1998 election.

The seat has been held since 1998 by Tanya Plibersek. Plibersek served as a minister during the last Labor government, and then served as deputy Labor leader from 2013 to 2019.


  • Andrew Chuter (Socialist Alliance)
  • Tanya Plibersek (Labor)
  • Ben Ferguson (One Nation)
  • Chetan Sahai (Greens)
  • Wen Zhou (Citizens Party)
  • Ryan McAlister (United Australia)
  • Alexander Andruska (Liberal)
  • Assessment
    This electorate is not at all in danger of falling to the Liberal Party, but the Greens have done better in this area at state and local elections and have ambitions that may become possible when Tanya Plibersek retires.

    2019 result

    Tanya Plibersek Labor 46,85049.4+5.7
    Jacqui Munro Liberal 25,23026.6-2.5
    Matthew Thompson Greens 17,13418.1-0.7
    Aaron HammondScience Party3,2403.4+1.9
    Adam HoltUnited Australia Party1,3661.4+1.4
    Rebecca ReddinChristian Democratic Party9951.0-0.6

    2019 two-party-preferred result

    Tanya Plibersek Labor 65,11068.7+3.4
    Jacqui Munro Liberal 29,70531.3-3.4

    Booth breakdown

    Booths have been divided into four parts:

    • North-East – Darlinghurst, Kings Cross, Millers Point, Sydney CBD, Surry Hills, Woolloomooloo
    • North-West – Glebe, Pyrmont, Ultimo
    • South-East – Alexandria, Redfern, Rosebery, Waterloo, Zetland
    • South-West – Camperdown, Darlington, Erskineville, Newtown

    Labor’s two-party-preferred figure (against the Liberal Party) ranged from 66.6% in the north-east to 82.7% in the south-west.

    The Greens vote ranged from 16% in the south-east to 25.3% in the south-west.

    Voter groupGRN primLIB primALP 2CPTotal votes% of votes
    Other votes19.329.365.013,81714.6

    Election results in Sydney at the 2019 federal election
    Toggle between two-party-preferred votes and primary votes for Labor, the Liberal Party and the Greens.

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    1. Tanya Plibersek should retain this seat comfortably. I know some have suggested this seat could be vulnerable to the Greens when she leaves. But those voices have quietened over the past elections where the Greens have failed to make the two party preferred vote.

      If Anthony Albanese doesn’t win the next election my guess it will be Plibersek who is leader. Jim Chalmers is still young and has time, and Bill Shorten is still likely to be seen as damaged goods. Interestingly Kristina Keneally odds are higher then Chalmers and Shorten on Sportsbet.

    2. My view is that Sydney city voters are like most left-leaning inner-city voters who can see themselves voting for multiple different parties given the right conditions. Plibersek has been in the seat for decades, she’s managed to build up a personal machine that’ll no doubt see her elected as long as she asks for it. But municipal Labor candidates have already been comprehensively marginalised by the Clover group and even lost the state electoral district to them. So clearly Sydney’s not all ALP rusted-ons.

      There are some demographic differences between Sydney and Grayndler, most notably mean personal income, and I can see an argument that that breeds a more centrist tendency. But I’m pretty confident the Greens probably won’t try very hard here anyway, and are much more interested in Richmond and how much they can cut into Albo’s margin.

      Generally agree about Plibersek’s leadership prospects. I doubt many would bet against her if she wanted the leadership, and Albo was offering it at least semi-amicably. The question is whether she wants it.

    3. Furtive,
      When Clover Moore was elected to state parliament in 1988, she defeated a sitting Liberal Party MP.
      The Liberal Party has been trying to ‘get Clover’ ever since.

    4. You’re right Watson, and the state seat is still more Liberal leaning than the federal one. But there are booths in Sydney LGA with single digit ALP primary votes that support Plibersek at the federal level. Similarly, the Greens outpolled the Labour candidate in every single booth in the Newtown electoral district. Even in Redfern.

    5. Generally agree about Plibersek’s leadership prospects. I doubt many would bet against her if she wanted the leadership, and Albo was offering it at least semi-amicably. The question is whether she wants it.

      She does want it. The real reason not pursing after the last federal election is Anthony Albanese had the support in the Left faction sewn up. Which is Tanya Plibersek’s faction. If and its a big if Albanese doesn’t win the next election. Then Plibersek would likely pursue it because she won’t get another chance. Plibersek is a senior politician and is not getting any younger, and is in her prime. It’s either now or never for her. However, by saying that Albanese did have a commanding lead in Newspoll the other day. So it’s probable that the scenario may not even come up but it’s not certain.

    6. If the polls are correct and Labor do get 56% TPP nationwide, then the greens could come second here. I wonder if there will be any other Labor seats (other than Cooper/Wills/Grayndler/Canberra) where minor parties/independents get second due to the low liberal vote pushed down by the nationwide swing?

    7. @Marko

      When the Labor party vote rises it does harm the Greens as some of those soft Greens votes revert back to Labor. Bob Brown has even conceded this. That’s why I seriously question your methodology that the Greens will improve their chances here on a Labor landslide victory.

      I seriously doubt Labor will get 56% on two party preferred vote on election night. There will be alot of narrowing before the next election. John Howard landslide 1996 victory his vote was 53.63%. Kevin Rudd even admitted that his victory in 2007 there was a 2% swing to the Liberals nationally in the last week of the election campaign which constrained the amount of seats Labor gained.

    8. Agree with the Watchman on polls narrowing. At the last election the polls were 3% out and it would seem that they are probably about 3% out now. In normal times, that would suggest a fairly comfortable Labor victory but these times don’t seem too normal and may be the beginning of a new normal

    9. Agree with the Watchman on polls narrowing. At the last election the polls were 3% out and it would seem that they are probably about 3% out now. In normal times, that would suggest a fairly comfortable Labor victory but these times don’t seem too normal and may be the beginning of a new normal

    10. I was not saying that their chances would be heightened here. Plibersek can’t lose here. I was just saying that the greens could come second here as a mere statistical curiosity.

    11. Plibersek has run out of steam politically. She never got her energy back after the 2013 Labor election defeat and has been in political stasis since.
      Nearly 25 years in Parliament, I wonder what else there is to really accomplish- as good a time as any to move aside.

    12. LJ Davidson, is that a tongue-in-cheek comment? Becoming Deputy PM would be an accomplishment, as would becoming either PM or Opposition Leader when Albo finally bows out.

    13. If Albo gets elected she won’t be Deputy PM- Marles will be.
      If Albo loses, it’ll be either Chalmers, Clare or O’Neill as Opposition Leader. I can’t see Plibersek being Deputy to any of those, as the party would want renewal.
      Fundamentally what numbers does she have in caucus? She should’ve also taken an economic portfolio at least in opposition

    14. I don’t know what the party room numbers are like, I suspect their support is split across the Right while Plibersek would dominate the Left. Even if that’s not the case Plibersek would destroy any of them in a membership plebiscite.

    15. Election announced today so I have been doing my pre election research. A reflex really, as I know how I will vote.

      So far as I can tell there is NO Liberal or National candidate for Sydney. The previous candidate has vanished off the face of the earth like every other previous Liberal candidate.

      The largest city in Australia and the sitting government has not bothered to put a candidate at its core. Not even as a visibility/publicity generator. That is at best disorganised, if there will be no candidate it’s incompetent and outright disrespectful to coalition voters and our democracy.

    16. Am new to this electorate, moved recently from Reid. Am fascinated there seems to be no Liberal/National candidates running … will be interesting to see how the other parties go.

    17. Ben wouldn’t it be accurate if you included Lord Howe Island as it is part of this electorate in the geography section?
      This federal seat and the state seat of Port Macquarie have had Lord Howe Island as part of their seats for a number of years now. There was a debate to redraw the boundaries at the state level to put Howe into the state electorate of Sydney but the NSW AEC ultimately decided not to.

    18. Daniel, you do make a good point about Sydney including far flung Lord Howe Island. However, I think from a population perspective, Lord Howe Island has under 1000 people, barely 1% of the whole district enrolment/population. Therefore, its inclusion is unlikely to alter the overall district voting patterns unless it has an abnormally high conservative vote that offsets the overall Labor/leftward lean of the rest of the district.


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